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An unattended space heater caused a fire at a local men’s shelter late last week, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office reported.

It took firefighters from Waldorf, La Plata, Hughesville, Brandywine and Bryans Road volunteer fire departments about five minutes to control the fire that started in one of the dormitory rooms of the shelter at the Kingdom City Word and Worship Center on Billingsley Road in Waldorf.

Deputy State Fire Marshal John Ray said the fire was first discovered about 10:30 a.m. Dec. 20 by shelter occupants who saw smoke coming from the air ducts in the office of the dormitory. When firefighters arrived, they discovered a small fire in one of the rooms that started from a portable electric heater.

There were no injuries as a result of the fire.

However, there were fire safety violations discovered during the investigation, and the shelter was placed on 24/7 fire watch until the violations are corrected, according to the fire marshal’s report.

Ray said the violations included smoke detectors with missing or low batteries, emergency doors that were locked and in need of repair, issues with exit signs and lighting, and out-of-date fire extinguishers.

He said the fire marshal’s office is working with the shelter’s owner, which is in the process of making the necessary corrections.

Calls to the shelter for comment were not returned as of Monday afternoon.

The fire caused $3,000 in damage.

Ray said there were six occupants in the shelter at the time of the fire. He said 27 people live in the dormitory.

He said people should make sure to replace batteries in their smoke detectors every six months.

Jeff Duer, spokesman for the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department, said a good rule of thumb is to change the batteries in the detectors every time the clocks are changed in a house.

Ray said it is recommended that anyone with a stand-alone smoke detector replace the battery with a 10-year sealed battery.

Duer said when it comes to a fire, “a smoke detector is your first and best line of defense.”

Boat fire causes $30,000 in damage

Fire marshals also reported that on Dec. 14, a homeowner on the 13800 Block of Lloyd Point Farm Road in Newburg heard a loud noise and looked out to see smoke coming from a 21-foot Kencraft boat. The homeowner called 911.

Firefighters from Newburg, Bel Alton and Cobb Island volunteer fire departments and the Dahlgren, Va., fire department had the fire under control in about 10 minutes. The fire started due to an explosion in the boat’s center console caused by the electrical charger, the fire marshal’s report states.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to other boats or structures nearby.

There was $30,000 in damage, according to the fire marshal’s report.

gphillips@somdnews.com